Three Rock Rovers ready to fly Irish flag in Euro Hockey League
South Dublin club one of the few hockey clubs to successfully apply for sport capital grant
Minister for Sport Shane Ross: review of the current Sports Capital Grants system could see fee-paying schools being excluded in future. Photograph: Barbara Lindberg.
As Three Rock Rovers travel to represent Ireland this weekend in the Euro Hockey League, Hockey Ireland might pause to consider why the sport did so poorly in the last round of Sports Capital Grants. There is a reason. Not very many applied successfully.
The game is played in 87 clubs and 70 secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland. Of the tens of thousands who play the sport (no exact numbers are yet available) 75 per cent are women.
That means mostly women and schoolgirls were hurt by the sport’s inability to organise a structured application process country wide. Hockey received €211,662 before successful appeals, boxing €951,506, tennis €2,643,490. Boxing and tennis were lavishly rewarded for undertaking a co-ordinated filling in of forms to take their fair chunk of the €60 million on offer.
Minister for Sport Shane Ross this week said that 20 per cent of all applications last time around were invalid, down from 48 per cent and that there were 149 appeals of which 35 were upheld. At least three of those successful appeals were hockey clubs/schools.
There is a fear now that the State will exclude fee-paying schools from the next round of grants as a review of the system currently in place is underway. Minister Ross could not say at Wednesday’s Oireachtas hearing when that review would be complete or when next round of Sports Capital Programmes will take place.
This could adversely hit hockey as the structure of the sport is based on strong partnerships between clubs and schools that often have a tie into the local community via national schools and other sports such as soccer, athletics or Tag Rugby.
Three Rock Rovers, who face French side Saint Germain in the knockout stage of 16 are bidding to become the first Irish side to reach the last eight in the Euro Hockey competition’s history.
Having been one of the clubs who successfully applied for a €150,000 capital grant in the last round of funding, they will do the sport a further service if they achieve that aim on the pitch.